Assembly passes amendments to corporate law

KUWAIT: Opposition MPs Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, Mohammad Al-Mutair and Marzouq Al-Khalifa yesterday filed a request to grill HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah over a host of allegations including illegally revoking the citizenships of opposition figures for political reasons, squandering public funds, claims of corruption and raising utility charges. This is the first request to grill the prime minister in the current Assembly elected last November, in which the opposition controls about half of the 50 seats.

The grilling came just a day after the government and its supporters in the Assembly rejected a law to allow Kuwaitis who get their citizenships revoked by the government to seek recourse in courts. At present, Kuwaiti courts are not allowed to look into citizenship matters because they are sovereign issues.

The first issue in the grilling centers around the government's action almost three years ago to revoke the citizenship of a number of opposition figures and dozens of their family members using different pretexts. The grilling accuses the government headed by the prime minister of violating the law and misusing its authority by revoking the citizenships of several opposition figures as a means of punishment and for politically-motivated reasons.

The grilling also holds the prime minister responsible for the government's violation of international civil rights covenants and misusing its authority to issue punitive and politically-motivated legislation against its opponents. It also accuses the prime minister of being responsible for the widespread corruption in the country, claiming that Kuwait dropped 20 places in the past year in the Corruption Perception Index. The grilling claims that the prime minister insisted on appointing senior officials who failed in their previous posts in new positions, as a reflection of rife corruption in the country.

The fourth issue in the grilling focuses on failure to implement the government's development program and squandering strategic assets owned by the state. The fifth and last issue in the grilling claims that the government has increased burdens on Kuwaiti citizens but still failed to check squandering of public funds and corruption.

The grilling cites the increase in the prices of petrol and electricity, saying that it is well known that the hike in electricity prices was not based on scientific studies and even before the government succeeds in collecting hundreds of millions of dinars in unpaid bills. It said that the decided hike is highly exaggerated. It also said the hike in petrol prices and the increase in other charges will leave a negative impact on citizens.

Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said the grilling will be on the agenda of the April 25 regular session to decide when to debate it. The prime minister can ask for a delay if the Assembly agrees. Minister of Justice Faleh Al-Azeb however said that the government will study if the grilling is in line with the constitution and then decide its next course of action.

Two other opposition lawmakers, Riyadh Al-Adasani and Shuaib Al-Muwaizri, are scheduled to file a second grilling against the premier on Sunday. After debating the grilling, MPs may file a no-cooperation motion against the prime minister. To pass, the motion needs the support of 25 lawmakers. If approved, the matter will be sent to HH the Amir, who will decide whether to sack the prime minister or dissolve the Assembly and call for fresh elections.

In the Assembly session yesterday, MPs approved a criminal extradition treaty with Britain. It will help extradite the former chief of the social security institution who has been sentenced to jail for embezzling tens of millions of dinars. It also passed amendments to the corporate law to make it easier to set up commercial companies in the country.

By B Izzak